Monday, June 27, 2011

Marshmallow Sherbet Cones

I have always been a big fan of sherbet in the many forms it comes in. As a kid, I loved those sherbet cones you bought from the corner store – semi solidified sherbet in a stale cone, with chewy marshmallow on the top, coated in hundreds and thousands. I also loved Wiz Fizz – fruity sherbet in a glassine bag with a little plastic shovel. I’d most often buy these on the way home from the pool, because they were only five cents. Unfortunately, my hands were usually still wet from the pool, turning the bag to a sloppy mess before I could eat its entire contents.

For my 10th birthday my mum decided to include homemade sherbet cones on the menu. Thanks to The Australian Women’s Weekly recipe cards, we had the recipe for sherbet and marshmallow, albeit, on different cards. My clever mum bought flat bottomed square cones, half filled them with sherbet and then topped them with pink or green marshmallow. Of course each had a liberal sprinkling of hundreds and thousands.

In my exploration of old seventies recipes, I’ve revisited sherbet cones to see how they look in the new millennium. Very retro, of course!

1 cup pure icing sugar
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¾ tsp tartaric acid
8 flat bottomed wafer cones

½ cup cold water
2 ½ tblsp gelatine powder (unflavoured)
½ cup water
1 ½ cup caster sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
½ tsp cochineal food colouring

1. Sift the icing sugar through a loose sieve to remove all the lumps. Add the bicarb soda and tartaric acid. Stir to combine.
2. Sift all ingredients together through a triple sieve. If you don’t have one, put it through the other sieve three times. You must do this to achieve the light and airy consistency of sherbet.
3. Spoon two heaped teaspoons of sherbet into each sherbet cone. Make sure you leave about half a centimetre of cone space from the top to allow for the marshmallow.
4. Combine the gelatine and water in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Stir to combine, then allow to stand for around 10 minutes. This is to ensure the gelatine has fully dissolved.
5. Combine the water, sugar and corn syrup in a heavy bottomed pan. I used a frying pan, but a saucepan will do too. Bring to the boil and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Continue boiling until the syrup reaches 245 degrees Fahrenheit. Be very careful – this mixture will cause severe burns if you get it on your skin!
6. Turn the electric mix on low and slowly pour the boiling syrup mixture into the gelatine mixture. Continue mixing on low until all ingredients are combined. Then increase the mixing speed until – on a Kitchenaid this is eighth gear. Also note, I chose the paddle beater for this task. Other recipes will say use a whisk attachment, but this mixture will break your equipment if you do! I’ve also made this on a Sunbeam Mixmaster – it brought the beaters to a standstill and nearly burned out the motor!
7. Continue beating the marshmallow mix until it goes white and triples in size. Depending on your mix, this will take 7-10 minutes. Add the food colouring – adjust amount according to the intensity of colour you want.
8. Fit a star-shaped piping tube into a piping bag. I recommend you use a disposable bag to help with clean up later! Spoon as much marshmallow into the bag as you can – it’s very sticky and stringy so be careful not to get it stuck in your hair!
9. Pip marshmallow around the top of each sherbet cone, covering the sherbet and working in clock-wise circles to build up to a peak. Sprinkle immediately with hundreds and thousands.
10. Allow to stand for about half an hour. The marshmallow will relax a little bit, but it should not drip.
11. For any left over marshmallow, fill a Teflon tray with sifted pure icing sugar. Pipe long strips of marshmallow into the icing sugar, then cover it with more sifted icing sugar. Carefully dust the marshmallow and allow to set for about half an hour. Using a pair of scissors, cut one inch pieces of marshmallow. Store in an airtight container and eat whenever you get the urge!
12. Marshmallow cones should keep in an airtight container for about two weeks.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ancient recipes, modern ingredients

When I was a kid there was a culinary revolution in our house that was triggered by the release of The Australian Women's Weekly recipe cards. Every week for something like 26 weeks a new set of cards was released and my mum snapped them up and began using them. I relied heavily on those cards when I was learning to cook, and I was delighted a few years ago when my mum found an entire set for me in a garage sale.

Last month I decided to have a go at making the now famous Caramel Chocolate Slice, which can be found in most cafes in Australia. The recipe cards are now around 35 years old, so I shouldn't have been surprised to find that the recipe needed some adjusting.

Firstly, the old slice tin has been replaced by a brownie tin. It's roughly the same dimensions, but it's deeper. So while the biscuit base fitted perfectly, there was scant caramel to cover it. When I checked the tin of condensed milk, I found it is now 390g, whereas it used to be 440g. You wouldn't think 50g would make much of a difference, but consider how much of the condensed milk gets left on the inside of the can. There's a chance you could be over 75g short, which would mess with the outcome.

I also found the chocolate just didn't cover the slice. So with both the caramel and the chocolate, I just doubled the original recipe, which resulted in a very generous slice.

Last weekend I fished out the recipe for sherbet. My mum used to combine the sherbet with the marshmallow recipe in a square icecream cones to make sherbet cones for our birthdays. As a teenager I frequently used the sherbet recipe to concoct an naughty after school snack. I picked up some tartaric acid in the supermarket and on Sunday night I put together a batch of sherbet. I was surprised to find the tartaric acid did not perform the same way it did 25 years ago. It could be a difference in the way it's produced now. It certainly looked different to the stuff mum used to use. I added 50% more to get the flavour right. But I still think it needs something else to correct it.

Old recipes are excellent. They can be a window to the past, as Heston Blumenthal has showed us time and again. But be careful when using modern ingredients in ancient recipes - they will need adjusting to get the flavour right. All you can do is test and taste. Which is the way to get any recipe right, no matter when it was written!